Straw Yaki Shop "Utsubo no Straw Tataki
Let's eat something with "U" on Doyou Ushi no Hi. Like moray eel!

On Doyou Ushi no Hi, we have been eating "Utsubo (eel)" to bring good luck by eating foods with "U" in their name. Eels are rich in iron and protein, and are full of nutrients. The plump white flesh with its tough jelly-like skin has a hearty, yet not too strong taste, somewhat similar to that of eels.

Tosa Cuisine "Warayakiya
This time at Tosa Cuisine "Warayakiya".

Utsubo Straw Tataki

Utsubo is a popular ingredient in local cuisine throughout Japan, and this time we decided to try it at "Warayakiya," a restaurant that serves Tosa sake and rice. The menu item we ordered was "Utsubo no Straw Tataki," priced at 1,490 yen (excluding tax, same as below), and one plate is just the right volume for two or three people to share.

Since we were in the mood for something special, we ordered a bottle of sake to go with it. The restaurant recommended the shochu "Tosa Han" for soda. The price was 550 yen.

Sweet Potato Shochu "Tosa Han
The standard potato shochu "Tosa-han" is served with soda.

At Warayakiya, an appetizer (500 yen) is served before the meal. The dish consists of colorful vegetables topped with one of four different dressings. All dressings contain bonito, and the flavors are ginger, raayu, mayonnaise, and nanban, respectively. I choose the ginger recommended by the restaurant staff. The concentrated umami of the fish goes well with the crunchy fresh vegetables, and the flavor makes the sake go down so well that the first glass is empty before the moray eel arrives.

Straw-yaki shop appetizers
Appetizer. Vegetables with bonito on top. This will make you drink a lot of sake!

As I am nibbling on the appetizers, I see a red flame rising vigorously in the kitchen. It seems that they are making "straw yaki," in which the fish is grilled over a fire on a straw mat to give it a savory smell.

Cooking scene at Warayakiya
It's burning so hot.

After a short wait, the dish arrived. The outside of the thinly sliced moray eel was grilled, and the fish was sprinkled with green onion, white onion, and purple myoga as condiments, topped with ponzu (Japanese citrus juice). The glossy shine looks delicious.

Straw Yaki Shop "Utsubo no Straw Tataki
Aburated moray eel with plenty of condiments

First, take one chop and you will see that the white meat is covered with a thick jelly-like skin. When you try it, you will find that the skin is firm but the flesh is plump. I had an impression that moray eel looks tough and has a strong flavor, but it is surprisingly tasteless.

Straw Yaki Shop "Utsubo no Straw Tataki
The skin is soft and fluffy. It may resemble eel a little.

Straw Yaki Shop "Utsubo no Straw Tataki
The jelly-like quality of the skin is amazing.

The texture of the eel on the tongue and in the mouth is reminiscent of "firm eel. It goes well with crunchy condiments and refreshing ponzu (Japanese sauce made from ponzu citrus juice), making it perfect for enjoying with sake.